Influencer marketing for small business: How to get started
Is influencer marketing dead?
I bet this thought has crossed your mind a time or two.
Influencer marketing peaked in 2014, so you thought. It’s not what it once was.
Like you, I have thought the same thing. Five minutes of Instagram scrolling changed my mind.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You pull up Instagram while you’re “watching” TV. You scroll past ads on Instagram. You hear the buzz of commercials on the TV. Before you realize it, ads are coming at you over multiple channels.
It’s a lot.
You might imagine, people don’t like to be bombarded with ads. Too bad that’s already happening. Just how burdened are we with ads? Estimates say we’re exposed to somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 ads every day. Most of them we ignore.
As a brand looking to win trust with a new audience, it’s unlikely you’ll get that with a new ad. It’s more likely you will get that through someone your audience already knows and likes.
Hello, influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is an authentic way to cast a net that hits with audiences who care. This strategy has a great chance of landing because it comes from an authority figure audiences are comfortably engaged with.
Should you think about influencer marketing? If you’re wondering why your paid ads aren’t landing, the answer is yes.
What is influencer marketing?
Have you purchased something because a person you admire used the product or service? Yep, that’s influencer marketing.
Think of influencer marketing as an accelerated word-of-mouth marketing strategy. Influencer marketing is evergreen. It allows your business to connect with consumers who have an affinity for your product or service.
Influencer marketing presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to build brand awareness without blowing the budget. It’s not just for the mega brands.
This marketing strategy takes many shapes. However influencer marketing looks to you, it’s worth the price of admission. More than 70% of businesses say the quality of traffic from influencers is better than other sources.
Ads have a better time landing when they come from a trusted source, someone you know and like. Influencer marketing taps into word-of-mouth marketing and social proof in this way.
More consumers rely on the suggestions of their friends, family, and people they admire more than anything. Who influences your buying habits?
Who is an influencer?
An influencer doesn’t have to have special status or be famous.
Simply, they need to be influential.
Influencers are valued for their trust.
You wouldn’t buy followers to build your brand. Think about it. What good is it to have 10,000 followers but only 1% converted? With an influencer, you get to put your brand in front of a hyper-engaged audience with a high level of trust.
Influencer marketing is based on relationships. Influencers themselves are loved and understood by many, and that’s what gives them their influence.
With strong trust pre-established, consumers are likely to follow their endorsements with a high level of confidence.
Feeling good about influencer marketing? Great! Let’s keep going.
I have good news. It’s not that hard to find an influencer.
Can an influencer work with a small business?
It’s not just for the big guys. Influencer marketing works, even for the little guys.
You’ll come to find there are different tactics for influencer marketing for small business. Some intended for different brands, of different sizes, and with different intents. For small businesses, micro-influencer marketing is a good starting point.
Micro-influencers are usually classified as influencers with smaller followings within a specific niche.
Why go small when you can go big? A few reasons.
Influencer marketing, at scale, doesn’t come cheap. Influencers with large followings charge a lot — sometimes into the thousands, per post. While micro-influencers may seem like small players in influencer marketing, they pack a strong punch. More than 80% of respondents said they would follow a micro-influencers’ recommendation.
Want to see some eye-popping statistics on influencer marketing?
Here’s a sampling that shows just how impactful influencer marketing is.
- 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations
- 74% of people go through social media to guide purchasing decisions
- 89% of businesses say influencer marketing was better than other marketing channels
- $5.20 per $1 spent is how much businesses are making on influencer marketing
- 45% of consumers use ad-blocking software
How do you get started with influencer marketing?
When done right, influencer marketing works well.
Doing it right means utilizing organic partnerships with influencers who have built a dedicated community and whose values align with your brand.
Hang with me as I share a few steps to getting started in influencer marketing.
Step 1: Identify and strategize
All good strategy starts with research.
You should start by choosing what platform you want to work with. Consider where you have a presence or where you are looking to expand. You might look at your industry and see what works well among your competition. Of note, Instagram is king of social media influencer marketing, with YouTube closely behind. You decide what works for you.
Next, you want to look for influencers. It’s best to start small with micro-influencers. Someone with a following of 2,000 or less is good. Remember not to let yourself get caught up in the numbers. It’s not exactly the follower count that matters. What matters is that they have an audience that is consistently engaged. So look that their posts are getting plenty of likes and comments.
Remember that compensation will vary if you spring for an influencer with a greater following. In 2017, the average price for a micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers was $83, per post.
How can you find the ideal influencer? Pay attention to their engagement rate, as it means that their followers are paying attention and taking action to their content. Review who they’ve worked with in the past. Have they worked with your competitors or brands within your niche? Ask yourself these questions.
Step 2: Research and engage
Influencers, even micro-influencers, get a lot of attention. If you’re reaching out, it’s likely you’re not alone. You might see your competition vying for a relationship with this influencer.
Don’t let it come as a surprise. Marketers are spending more on influencer marketing now than in past years. That’s not expected to change. To ensure that you win the influencer you feel will carry your brand and message out, get on their radar authentically.
How? Engage with their content. Share their content. Be a support system. Be a value to them, and show you care. But don’t do it all overnight. Like any good relationship, these things take time.
Then you can make your pitch. Tell the influencer why you want to form a relationship with them, and make it organic and real. If it’s fake, it won’t land well.
Big picture, your goal here is to forge a relationship with someone who has had success in an area you want to build success of your own in. Showing your appreciation goes a long way and is better received than a run-of-the-mill cold email pitch.
When you’re ready to reach out to an influencer, start small. Pick a few people who you really resonate with. People whose values align with your own and share a message that meets your message. Do they create the content you want to create? Bingo.
Step 3: Decide a goal and message
It’s time you ask yourself why you’re doing this.
Influencer marketing can yield all kinds of results. What do you want to accomplish? Elevate brand awareness? Increase sales? Grow customer base in a specific demographic?
Whatever it is your intent, build a plan and make it clear with your influencer. Then share with them how they come into play.
Your influencer will help you reach a specific targeted audience and convey the message you want to convey. But one tip: Don’t stifle their creativity and uniqueness.
Influencers have a unique voice. Let them be them and have some creative freedom to work within your campaign. Messages that share the same tone as the influencer tend to land better with audiences because they feel authentic.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the campaign, even if it’s still being worked on. Mention why you think the influencer would be best to deliver this message and why they matter. Influencers like to know what part they play, and above all things, why them.
Putting it in action
Like any marketing campaign, you will have your measurables. You will have your goals.
I can’t promise you that influencer marketing will work. It’s because there’s a lot of variables to it, and thus, a lot of results yielded from it.
Influencer marketing isn’t dead. In fact, with all of us spending more time at home, we’re on social media more and big budget marketing campaigns just aren’t hitting the same.
Our connections on social media are growing stronger every day. In result, some estimates say we have an equal trust in social media recommendations as we do those from friends and family. For that reason, I can’t see why it wouldn’t make sense to plunge into influencer marketing.
What do you think? Will you incorporate influencer marketing into your next marketing campaign? Why or why not?
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